Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Laura Espinal (Fed)

Project Leader, Solid Sorbents


I lead a project focused on advancing sorption measurement science and in-situ characterization techniques to enable the rational design of advanced materials for sustainable energy and environmental applications.  We apply complementary sorption techniques to ensure high quality of data and develop robust protocols to further measure preferential adsorption using gas mixtures.  A summary of our measurement capabilities can be found here.  We also look at the physical and chemical response of solid sorbents upon exposure to model gases and vapors at the temperatures and pressures that best depict the story of the solid sorbent being studied.   

Research Interest

  • Functional materials for sustainable technologies and materials sustainability.
  • Solid state sorbents for environmental applications, e.g., carbon capture.
  • In situ structural analysis of gas separation materials via neutron and X-ray techniques.
  • Physico-chemical characterization and mechanistic evaluation of catalytic materials.
  • Rational and accelerated design of materials through an integrated computational and experimental approach.

Research Opportunities

National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship:  (Open to U.S. citizens)

  • Adsorption Science to Enable Sustainable Development (RO# 50.64.31.B7985).  Sorbent materials are candidates for many industrial sustainable development applications, including hydrogen and methane storage, gas separation, catalysis, methane conversion, and natural gas purification. However, reproducible sorption properties measurements are difficult to obtain due to slight variations in sample preparation and/or measurement protocols. NIST researchers, with support from the US Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), recently built a state-of-the-art Facility for Adsorbent Characterization and Testing (FACT). The new facility is furnished with several instruments for characterizing pore architecture and evaluating fundamental sorption properties of materials upon exposure to single or multi-component gases. FACT will serve the sorbent materials research community by providing impartial testing and characterization of material sorption properties, establishing testing procedures, and disseminating sorbent material property data and measurement "best practices." Specific research activities include utilization of state-of-the-art techniques and establishing protocols for measuring reliable high pressure gas sorption isotherms in support of materials development for carbon capture and natural gas purification. The materials to be used in this project may be porous solids, powders, or membranes.



Carbon Capture and Storage Properties of Porous Octahedral Molecular Sieve

Matthew Lawson, Jarod C. Horn, Winnie K. Wong-Ng, Laura Espinal, Huong Giang T. Nguyen, James A. Kaduk, Saul H. Lapidus, Yongtao Meng, Steven L. Suib, Lan Li
Based on the experimentally determined framework structure of porous MnO2 octahedral molecular sieve (OMS)-5, we used density functional theory-based
Created October 9, 2019, Updated June 15, 2021